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Domestic 4 door fridge not holding temps in hot weather.


capt307

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Hey everyone,

 

Since we purchased out unit in April we have noticed that the fridge (4 door side by side Dometic) does not hold it's temp as the day temperature rises. It would rise up about 4-5 degrees during the day and by morning it would be back down to reg temp. This was occurring with average spring temps with highs around 80. 60 at night.

 

We went to Myrtle Beach 2 weeks ago. That night after we arrived I noticed the temp to be 53! It went back down over night to around 40. For the first week there while temps were in the low 80's and cooler at night the fridge would be in the mid 40's range. Not great but acceptable. Well the 2nd week there the weather really heated up to mid to upper 90's. Well the fridge kept rising higher each day and dropped less and less at night. Fridge temp rose to 60 degrees on our travel day home. We had to switch to an ice chest. Now that we are back home the fridge is slot working it's way back down and is in mid 40's now that the outside temps are more reasonable.

 

Sooooo, what could be wrong? Dealer is coming out to look at it Monday but wanted to have some thoughts before hand. It clearly is affected by the outside temps. A huge problem. Not noticing and odor or leaking evidence anywhere.

 

Thoughts?! Thank you, Scott

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I will add some thoughts. What you are experiencing is pretty typical actually and being in Arizona even more than you are experiencing. One thing to help is park so the refrigerator side is on the shade side not sun side. Sometimes the problem is getting heat out from behind the refrigerator. Check vents both top and bottom make sure they are clear. A lot of refrigerators have aux. Fans to help exhaust heat make if you have one it is working. To mine I even added another fan beside OEM one and helped a lot.

sounds like you checked for leaks etc. So that probably not the problem. Door seal is another possibility. I know modern day RV refrigerators can be out of level a lot before that can have an effect. I know with new RV refrigerator this no supposed to happened like in older ones but you can get a bubble in the system which is like vapor lock. Only solution is remove turn upside down for awhile then right side up and reinstall. I could not believe that happened to as pull the 5er and the bouncing around should prevent from happening and beside the RV had not been that far out of level. There are other things but this should give you a start.

Hope this helps and the fix is easy.

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Shady side for the fridge or at least give it shade with the awning, it really makes a big difference.

 

Vents clear top and bottom sounds like a given but I've seen roofing blocking the top vent and gotten a bird nest up there in just a couple days so give it a look.

 

Adding one or two fans to move air is a good idea, if you are parked and hooked to power just grab a couple simple three speed 12 volt computer chassis fans and wire them in. Set the speed to where they aren't noisy and you should be fine. If you boondock a lot then more power efficient fans and a controller can be used.

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Along with the rest of the suggestions, make sure there are no large gaps around the back side of the fridge to the side walls and top enclosure.

Is this fridge located in a slide out? There is supposed to be a baffle at the top rear edge of the fridge that arches toward the top vent. It's supposed to help direct heat away from the area above the fridge. I stuffed insulation across the top of ours and down the sides. Combined with the extra fans on the back it works much better.

We used this kit for additional fans http://rvcoolingunit.com/Dometic-add-on-Frame-Fan-bracket-kit-2-fans-switch-wiring--P3261872.aspx and it has worked well for us.

The next step is either to replace the cooling unit with an Amish made, or swap to the residential fridge.

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Some effect on inside temperatures due to the ambient outside temperature is normal but not to the extent that you seem to be having. The RV type of refrigerator is dependent upon natural convection flow and so works best in a mid range of ambient temperatures and does poorly in either very hot of very cold temperatures. You do not say how old your refrigerator is but it sounds to me as though you have the early stage of cooling unit failure. I have found that while one may need to change the setting of the refrigerator to a colder setting when in warmer weather, it should still operate much better than what you describe in the temperature ranges that you experienced.

 

Have you noticed any odor of ammonia either inside of the refrigerator or in the rear access area? While looking in the back check around for any signs of a yellow powder or deposit of any kind. Either of these are indications of leakage of the refrigerant. Any obstruction of the air circulation path from the refrigerator flue up and out of the top vent will also cause the sort of problems you have been having. If your refrigerator has an axillary fan to aid in air movement, as that failing could also cause your symptoms. Any sort of disruption to natural air movement will cause the symptoms you experienced. As a test, you may want to try placing an electric fan into the lower opening to blow more air up through the cooling coils to see if that helps. As mentioned above, there may be a missing baffle to direct the air movement as it must pass over the heat transfer coils in the back. I suggest that you start by making a complete examination of the rear area and look to see how air passes through it.

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My advice is to get a resedential frig.

There a lot more stabble than never cold and Dometic.

Also lot more square foot age.

We swaped ours out because we knew so many full timers frigs going out.

We had a four door now we have a LG 24 square foot one.

One of the best things we did.

 

 

Just my opinion.

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On our MS we added fans to rear to add cooling in Texas heat. It worked well. Added 1 at top pulling to outside and 1 at bottom bringing in outside air. I did have to turn them off in winter or it quit cooling. But a side note, our Teton came with a residential fridge and we will never go back to an rv absorption fridge.

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AS noted, keep the frig side shaded. I added two 4" 12 VDC fans wired in series to run at 1/2 speed, mounted just above the lower vent. The frig already had two 4" fans wired to thermostats. Inside, I added a 3" 12 VDC fan to aid in internal circulation.

 

Dometic and Norcold have both cheapened the units to the point that they will only operate marginally. The best thing to do is to replace it with a residential frig with an inverter and added battery capacity.

 

Ken

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Thank you all for the input so far. Let me answer a few of your questions to help. The unit is only a year old. It does have a fan or fans running in the compartment somewhere. I can here them kick on. The unit is mounted on in a slide out which is covered my a slide out topper. On vacation the fridge was moderately filled but not overly stuffed. The fridge side was on shade side until early evening.

The hottest temps were on our two traveling days and the inside temp of the unit was very warm. We both like it cold and always have the ac cranked low.

 

This weekend while back at home it did make down to its normal 37 degrees in the morning. We are parked under a pavilion and the weather is typical Ohio (rain and clouds) and only got to 72 degrees to today but the fridge still rose to 41 degrees under their ideal situations. Shades cloudy and cool. Heard the fan running also.

 

It seems ridiculous that all these other efforts need to be put in place and try to pick shady sites (which obviously isn't always an option) to try and get a fridge to stay cold. Or having to spend 2 grand to by another fridge already to get a residential style seems crazy. This is our 4th RV and we never had a situation like this at all am we have been to the beach, out west and a lot of traveling miles on the road. A high end unit with a trusted name fridge should not be doing this. The fridge actually rises 23 degrees about what it should be at. Sounds way extreme!! The dealer is coming out to look at it Monday morning along with my hydraulics issue with the landing gear. I will follow up after I hear from them.

 

Thanks, Scott

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Scott, I have a small fan I installed and wired inside the fridge which blows over the evaporator cooling radiator at the inside back. It helps stir the air, keeping ice from forming on the inside fins and aiding in circulating cooling air to all corners of the fridge too.

vrvbex.jpg

Here's a better, commercially made set-up.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Dometic-Refrigerator-Fan-INCREASE-cooling-inside-Deluxe-custom-Built-/370591777926

 

Could it be that your fridge is freezing up like this, or have the thermistor set too low?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OmzDYZFYmx0

 

Valtera and Camco also makes battery powered fridge fans. I've had two over the years but they only last a couple years. The 2 D batteries they take last about a week and a half to 2 weeks so I don't recommend them for full timers.

http://www.campingworld.com/shopping/item/fridgecool-fan-with-on-off-switch/38134

 

Chip

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Just a thought to consider - check your ground connection for the frig. Last year our 4 yr old Dometic RM 1350 started acting up about a month after replacing the heat sensor (thermocoupler) that turned the fans on/off. We eventually wired the fans to come on with a switch so I could turn them on/off as I thought they needed to be set (usually on). Two trained Dometic trained techs couldn't figure it out & one told me it was normal & running according to Dometic specs(all horse poop). Turned out we had a bad ground. Fixed that & the Dometic started responding to the the thermocouple and returned to it's normal operation.

 

We, too, changed recently to a residential frig. Had we kept the Dometic, we'd replaced the seals around the 4 doors. I'm told there's a kit to do that. Since yours is a newer model, you probably have those seals already. Good luck, David

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The frigs mounted in the slides present the most problems in getting sufficient air flow in the back. The two fans from the factory are just not enough in warm weather.

 

Also, pull the upper frig vent cover and check this compartment to see if some insulation or a baffle has fallen down. A good installation should have a curved baffle to help get the air out .

 

Another common aliment of these frigs is the thermistors going bad or will work intermediately. They are a pretty simple replacement.

 

Ken

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It seems ridiculous that all these other efforts need to be put in place and try to pick shady sites (which obviously isn't always an option) to try and get a fridge to stay cold. Or having to spend 2 grand to by another fridge already to get a residential style seems crazy. This is our 4th RV and we never had a situation like this at all am we have been to the beach, out west and a lot of traveling miles on the road. A high end unit with a trusted name fridge should not be doing this. The fridge actually rises 23 degrees about what it should be at. Sounds way extreme!!

It clearly does sound like your refrigerator is not operating properly. Some internal temperature variation over the range of outside temperatures is normal but yours is far beyond the norm. We have used RV refrigerators with good results for more than 35 years of RV travels and we continue to do so without the problems that you are having. Either something is disrupting the air movement in your refrigerator's installation, or there is a problem with it. We have spent summers where daily high temperatures were consistently at or above 100° and the most that we had to do was to aid in some additional air movement through the unit on the hottest days. It is true that the typical RV refrigerator doesn't freeze as solidly as a compressor type but they do work if all is as it should be. We spent all of last summer in our RV using the absorption refrigerator with no problems at all and most days the temperatures did reach 90° or a bit more and ours was also where the sun hit it all afternoon. There is some sort of problem with your refrigerator and you should not need to replace it.

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  • 3 months later...

Just to update everyone on this post from a couple months ago, we finally got the cooling unit replaced. That seems to have fixed the issue. It cooled down in 6 hours after installation vs 1 1/2 days to cool down when we first got it this spring. It is staying at temp very well and even if it rises because the doors are open for a time it drops back to temp very quickly. My true test will come next summer when it gets hot out again. End of season now in Ohio and getting cool out.

 

I did have them install an additional fan while the fridge was pulled out to help with moving hot air from the cabinet area. It now has 3.

 

Thank you to everyone for their suggestions with this issue.

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